Nagpur, also known as “Orange City,”
is located in the center of India and among other things supplies more
than 70 percent of all the fresh oranges (orange barfi counts in that
number) in the country.
But in 2018, the city is also making major
aviation headlines. The home to Boeing’s only MRO facility other
than Shanghai, and also the place where the Tata Group launched the Central
India Spinning and Weaving Company Ltd. popularly called "Empress
Mill" on January 1, 1877, the day Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress
of India, is now building an international multi-modal cargo hub and airport
at Nagpur to rival Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Do It Again
Actually a cargo hub plan was floated in
Nagpur back in 2008 that almost sank before launch, with only a few takers
for the logistics park concept.
But now the fortunes of MIHAN or the Multimodal
International Hub and Airport at Nagpur as it is known, have been changing
with a lot of activity on the ground.
& Gadkari Kickstart
While the credit for kick-starting MIHAN
can well go to two of the city’s well known personalities –
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the Union Minister for
Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari – it is
Fadnavis who has been promoting Nagpur.
Last year, for example, during the ‘Make
in India’ week held in Mumbai, Nagpur was hyped as an investment
hub and it received commitments from electronics, textile, defense, infrastructure
and agro industries.
Good to recall as mentioned earlier here,
the textile business continues to flourish. For example Amravati, which
in 2018 is being promoted as India’s largest textile hub, is only
two hours away.
However, what is really grabbing attention
is Nagpur’s emergence as a defense hub.
Recently the joint venture of Reliance Anil
Dhirubhai Ambani Group and French partner Dassault, using Nagpur as their
subcontinent base, set up a unit for the manufacture of 36 Rafale fighter
aircraft purchased by the Indian military.
In addition, Tata’s aerospace business
unit is also located in MIHAN.
A New Mandate
Nagpur Airport, also known as the Dr. Babasaheb
Ambedkar International Airport, until recently under the joint control
(the government-controlled Airports Authority of India (AAI) and MIHAN
India Limited (MIL), is now a joint venture of the Maharashtra Airport
Development Company (MADC) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
MADC and AAI have 51 percent and 49 percent share holdings, respectively.
MIL is mandated to develop and expand Nagpur
Airport as a Multi-Modal International Hub Airport.
First Airport Operated by State
MIL, the authority that oversees the gateway,
is the first state-government organization to operate an international
airport in India.
One of the main tasks of MIL will be the
privatization of the facility.
Sources in MIL told FlyingTypers
that Requests for Proposal (RfP) to operate Nagpur have been sent out
to five private organizations including GVK and GMR, airport operators
at the four major international airports in the country, Mumbai and Bangalore
and Delhi and Hyderabad, respectively.
Among the other contenders are PNC Infratech
Limited, Tata Reality and Infrastructure Limited and Essel Infra Project
Was A College Thesis
Nagpur story began decades ago.
The move to create a multimodal cargo hub,
leveraging Nagpur’s geographical position, was based on the Indian
Night Air Mail service that was started on January 30, 1949. This was
possibly the world’s first hub and spoke overnight service, as mail
from four main cities of the India landed in Nagpur at night, was sorted
and flown out in the morning.
A fine example of a hub-and-spoke operation,
the four main cities formed the four corners: Delhi in the north, Mumbai
in the west, Kolkata in the east, and Chennai in the south.
Connecting these cities was nothing but
a breeze because of the central India location of the city of Nagpur.
What Is Old
Is New Again
That that pioneering air mail service serves
as inspiration to set up MIHAN is one thing. The project at hand, conceived
as the biggest economical development project in the country in terms
of investment bears close observation by transportation professionals.
Nagpur will after all convert the present
airport into a major cargo hub with integrated road and rail connectivity.
Today with a pro-active government at Delhi
and with the support of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis,
a ‘son of the soil’, the Nagpur project is on a fast track.
In addition to defense industry commitments,
work at the Dhirubhai Ambani Aerospace Park at Nagpur continues.
Also on tap, situate at the park will be
headquarters facilities for Thales, Daher and Strata.